The English Patient is a 1996 romantic drama film based on the novel of the same name by Sri Lankan-Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje. The film, written for the screen and directed by Anthony Minghella, won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Ondaatje worked closely with the filmmakers.
The film is set during World War II and depicts a critically burned man, at first known only as "the English patient," who is being looked after by Hana (Juliette Binoche), a French-Canadian nurse in an abandoned Italian monastery. The patient is reluctant to disclose any personal information but through a series of flashbacks, viewers are allowed into his past. It is slowly revealed that he is in fact a Hungarian geographer, Count László de Almásy (Ralph Fiennes), who was making a map of the Sahara Desert, and whose affair with a married woman, Katharine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas), ultimately brought about his present situation. As the patient remembers more, David Caravaggio (Willem Dafoe), a Canadian intelligence operative and former thief, arrives at the monastery. Caravaggio lost his thumbs while being interrogated by a German army officer, and he gradually reveals that it was the patient's actions that had brought about his torture.
In addition to the patient's story, the film devotes time to Hana and her romance with Kip (Naveen Andrews), an Indian Sikh sapper in the British Army. Due to various events in her past, Hana believes that anyone who comes close to her is likely to die, and Kip's position as a bomb defuser makes their romance full of tension.
Set before and during World War II, The English Patient is a story of love, fate, misunderstanding and healing. Told in a series of flashbacks, the film can best be explained by unwinding it into its two chronological phases.
In the first phase, set in the late 1930s, the minor Hungarian noble Count Laszlo de Almásy (Fiennes) is co-leader of a Royal Geographical Society archeological and surveying expedition in Egypt and Libya. He and his English partner Madox are at heart academics with limited sophistication in the swirling politics of Europe and North Africa. Shortly after the film begins, both the morale and finances of their expedition are bolstered by a British couple, Geoffrey and Katherine Clifton (Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas) that joins the exploration party. The Count is taken with the gorgeous and refined Katherine. When Geoffrey is often away from the group on other matters, an affair takes wing.
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